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Under A Sheltering Tree

On this day, 90 years ago, an armistice was signed that brought to an end The Great War, The World War, The War To End All Wars.

Barely two decades later, those hopeful names were reduced to a mockery as the Second World War began.

Initially, the day was commemorated here in the United States as "Armistice Day." It was intended to observe the end of the greatest war the world had ever seen. In the wake of World War II, which dwarfed pretty much every aspect of the Great War, it was redefined as "Veterans Day" to honor not just those who died in the first World War, but all those who served in all wars. It became a counterpart of sorts to Memorial Day, which honored those who died in the service of our nation. With Veterans Day, we now had a day to honor those who survived.

Thomas Jefferson, among his many memorable quotes, once said that "the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." This has been the subject of much speculation over the precise meaning of this quote, and I have spent some time thinking about it myself.

To me, this is a reminder that freedom is NOT the natural state of man. When one looks through history, "freedom" is a very rare thing, and most often the result of great struggle.

Liberty is not a right, by the laws of nature. It can not be taken for granted, or it will be lost. It must be continually fought for, struggled for, and requires that patriots shed their blood to win it, and tyrants have their blood shed to yield.

But not all wounds of war are fatal. Indeed, not all wounds of war are physical. All who serve their nation in time of war bear some scars, some permanent change in their person. That service leaves a permanent mark on any one.

The "blood" they shed might not be the sort recognized by crime labs and hospitals, but their bleeding is undeniable. And that metaphorical blood also helps nourish the tree of liberty.

On this day, when once we fantasized that we had fought the last war, we need to take at least a few moments to remember and honor their service. For without them, we might not be enjoying the fruits of the tree of liberty today.

To all who served our nation: thank you. At times it might not seem we have properly appreciated your sacrifices, and at times we have not been worthy of them, but you have guaranteed that at least we will have the opportunity to learn from those mistakes -- and, perhaps, become worthy of all you have provided us.


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Comments (7)

Very nicely put. Couldn't h... (Below threshold)

Very nicely put. Couldn't have said it better. I agree.

To all you veterans out the... (Below threshold)

To all you veterans out there, thank you for your unselfish service. Here's hoping that the powers that be in this nation won't abandon those who are presently fighting for our freedom, but I'm afraid they already have.

Good one, Jay.... (Below threshold)

Good one, Jay.

Great post.Some f*... (Below threshold)

Great post.

Some f*ckhead in my office decided to spend the two minutes of silence pounding documents together with a stapler. Her boss: "She's from Russia, maybe she doesn't understand the significance." Yep. Felt like stabbing somebody in the eye with a poppy lapel pin. We get three days off for Christmas; we have a Christmas/Hanukkah celebration; we get a day off for Easter; but the day on the calendar that pertains to something real that everybody here should care about warrants two f*cking minutes of silence. I need a goddamn drink.

O, thus be it ... (Below threshold)
O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand, Between their lov'd homes and the war's desolation; Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause. it is just, And this be our motto: "In God is our trust" And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

For those who have served are and will serve thank you for understand Duty, Honor and Country.

I served in the Navy during... (Below threshold)

I served in the Navy during the Vietnam conflict. I was stationed in Seattle for a time. Some people had "Dogs and Sailors Keep Off The Grass". The Navy shipyards employed most of these people.

Having said that, I am glad to live in an era where most people appreciate the service of our veterans. If there isn't anything in your life worth dying for, you don't have much of a life. ww

I think Shakespeare said it... (Below threshold)
retired military:

I think Shakespeare said it best.

WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!

KING. What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day






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